Wow. I still can’t believe that I have officially finished my first semester of dental school. I actually still can’t believe that I’ve made it into dental school. I literally feel that I’ve worked my whole life to get here. Ahhh reminiscing over the countless struggles with my parents dragging me to Math Olypiad, studying for the SAT Vocab, a year of orgo and labs, following a bootcamp schedule to study for the DAT, and the FOMO of staying in while friends were out enjoying the weekend…all has paid off to get me to this point. Weird. And still kind of mind-blowing.
Anyways this was definitely a whirlwind of a semester having started mid-June and ending mid-August with a full set of midterms and finals. A lot of people have asked why our program starts in the middle of the summer rather than in the fall like many other dental schools. My response is always that the summer semester is not supposed to be as rigorous as the fall and winter terms. Thus, it really allowed us to get a taste of dental school without being thrown into the deep end! It gave us time to figure out what worked for us and how we wanted to work together. Since my dental class is less than a tenth of the size of my undergrad class, it makes it possible for dental school to be made into a collaborative effort. In other words, we can help each other succeed.
Honestly, I was never a good studier in undergrad. So I actually learned a lot this first semester in terms of how I plan on studying in dental school for the next 4 years. We took a total of 6 classes this summer term which sounds a lot more daunting that it actually is. Thinking about it, the last time I took 6 classes a semester was in high school! But these classes had a wide range of difficulty. In one you got an A simply for signing in for attendance on top of the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers from areas all within the wide field of dentistry or…you could sleep. Another, Head & Neck Anatomy, included cadaver dissections as well as lectures that were each probably equivalent to around a week’s worth of lectures for undergrad. Overall the classes were certainly manageable and straight-forward. One of the biggest differences I’ve found is that in dental school, the professors actually care. They’re no longer trying to weed us out of a 400 student class. In fact, it seems like they actually want us to succeed!
During this first semester I tried to make an effort to study early and every day rather than trying to cram in 20 hours of studying a couple of days before an exam. But of course, there were definitely those days when I’d come home at 5PM after a 9 hour day and feel way too pooped to study. But even the thought of falling behind was a constant motivator. However, I have to admit that the coursework in dental school is way different than the coursework in undergrad. It’s enjoyable and relevant. I think this is probably my favorite part about dental school. The difference between undergrad and dental school is that in undergrad we’re striving to get A’s whereas in dental school we’re striving to become the best dentists that we can be. Although many students are still striving to get A’s in order to specialize, the majority of us plan on being general dentists so it’s somewhat nice to have that weight of getting “good grades” off my back. What I’ve also heard from upperclassmen is that the difference between getting an A and a B is much bigger than the difference between a B and a C. In the beginning it was definitely difficult not to get caught up in the idea of getting all A’s, but with priorities changing, my mindset also changes. I want to do well in dental school for myself rather than to put on a report card to show my parents.
In addition to school, I’m also exploring what Ann Arbor has to offer despite spending my whole life here! Although I’m a townie, having gone through grade school and undergrad here, there are always new facets of this town that never fail to amaze me. I moved into a 7-person suite in the brand new graduate student dorms early June. I had always had a bit of nostalgia when I think about the first time I moved into a dorm in my freshman year of college. I was 17 (yeah I was one of the lucky young ones..) and had gone in blind to a 3 person room. My two roommates and I quickly became each other’s best friends and support system while we explored our newfound independence together. They are still by far some of my closest friends today. So when I heard about the grad student dorms I was excited. I wasn’t expecting anything too close to my first dorm experience, but having that closeness and community with an entire building of people was what I had valued in the past and was something I had felt had been lacking when I moved into various apartment situations around town. Fortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had another similar, positive dorm experience this year. I’ve been very lucky with roommates in general and my roommates this year are no different.
So here’s to a new blog, new friends, and the next chapter of life!